California Senator And Two Psychiatric Groups Petition The Supreme Court Over Violent Video Game Law


Posted July 22, 2009 - By Jake Gaskill

California Senator And Two Psychiatric Groups Petition The Supreme Court Over Violent Video Game Law

Oh goodie. California Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) want the Supreme Court to consider reversing two lower federal court rulings in California that found the state’s law restricting minors from accessing violent video games was unconstitutional. (Strangely enough, Sess just addressed this topic yesterday in this week’s Sessler’s Soapbox.)

As GamePolitics reports, Sen. Yee, in partnership with the California Psychiatric Association and the California Psychological Association, has submitted a brief of amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) to the Supreme Court over the aforementioned unconstitutional video game law. In the brief, Yee asserts:

“The interactive nature of video games is vastly different than passively listening to music, watching a movie, or reading a book. With interactive video games, the child becomes a part of the action which serves as a potent agent to facilitate violence and overtime learns the destructive behavior. This immersion results in a more powerful experience and potentially dangerous learned behavior in children and youth.”
Yee goes on to say:
“These violent video games, on the other hand, can contain up to 800 hours of footage with the most atrocious content often reserved for the highest levels and can be accessed only by advanced players after hours upon hours of progressive mastery.”
(Outside of something like World of Warcraft, what games have you sunk 800 hours into? Even then, how many of those games have featured “atrocious content” through and through?)
The brief also cites the work of Dr. Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. (Director, Center for the Study of
Violence, Department of Psychology at Iowa State University) to support its argument for the need for the lower courts’ rulings to be overturned. According to Anderson, via his website:

“There are reasons to believe that violent video games may have a larger harmful effect than violent TV and film effects...There is a significant relation between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior. Exposing children and adolescents (or ‘youth’) to violent visual media increases the likelihood that they will engage in physical aggression against another person. By ‘physical aggression’ we mean behavior that is intended to harm another person physically, such as hitting with a fist or some object.”

That’s interesting, because the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center found that between 1991 and 2003 (a semi-popular time for video games), the percentage of high school students involved in physical fights declined 9.5 percent. And according to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 1992 and 2005, student-reported nonfatal crimes (theft, violent, serious violent) against students  for students ages 12-18 declined 43.9 percent at schools and 37.7 percent away from schools.
Judging from these statistics, either kids haven’t been playing as many of these “brain melting/ultra-violent” video games as some politicians believe they have, or kids who have grown up in the age of “violent video games” (and as a result been exposed to them more than previous generations) have somehow managed to successfully develop the necessary mental capacity to distinguish between fantasy violence and real violence, and process that distinction accordingly.

As always, though, the same three things are as clear as ever:

1.    Violent video games do not make kids more violent.
2.    M-Rated games are intended for mature audiences, and as such;
3.    Parents, not the government, are ultimately responsible for deciding what kinds of entertainment and media their kids consume.

The petition is expected to make its way in from of the Supreme Court in the fall (Good thing there aren’t a million more important things that need to be taken care of in this country.)

Like I even need to pose a question about this one.

California Senator And Two Psychiatric Groups Petition The Supreme Court Over Violent Video Game Law


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